Gaping Hen But Confirmed No Respiratory Infection or Gapeworms

Dec 5, 2018
18
52
59
Ontario, OR
Hello! I have a 9 month old Ameraucana hen named Gladys that started gaping on Friday. No nasal or eye discharge, normal poop (green with white and good consistency), was still eating and drinking at that time. She free ranges on occasion but is primarily in the coop (10'x10' building) and run (12'x40' fully fenced.) She eats a mix of Nutrena layer pellets, oyster shells and ground corn (from the corn we grow and grind for cattle feed.) It's been cold (mid-30's to mid-40's) and damp the past few weeks.

I separated her from the flock and brought her in the house right away. Started treating her with Tylan 200 (1/4 cc twice a day) but symptoms did not improve at all after 3 days. I took her to the vet on Monday (husband would KILL ME if he knew I took a chicken to the vet :D) He confirmed no respiratory infection, all anatomy looked normal, no stuck eggs, crop was empty and soft, nothing stuck in the throat that he could see without sedating and scoping her. They got a fecal sample and sent us home with instructions to treat her for gapeworm - fenbendazole in the form of Safe Guard purchased at the local farm supply store. All they had was the paste that is used for horses so we dosed her at an amount about the size of a pea, given orally.

Fecal sample came back negative for all parasites and she is still gaping. She is also not eating and drinking as much as she normally does. I've been making her scrambled eggs (eggs mixed with olive oil and milk) and force-watering her with water mixed with electrolytes, probiotics and vitamins.

I have thrown the kitchen sink at trying to heal this chicken and have become crazy-attached to her since she's been in the house (and vice-versa.)

Any other ideas/suggestions to try?
 

Eggcessive

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Welcome to BYC. How often is she gaping? In the future, if you give fenbendazole horse paste or the liquid goat wormer, give 0.25 ml (1/4 ml) per pound of weight for 5 straight days. A pea sized amount is usually listed in some older threads, and most people measure it in a syringe with out a needle nowadays.

I would probably place her back out in the coop with her flock, both to not upset the pecking order, and to make her more comfortable. If you feel that she needs separating for some reason, you might want to keep her in a dog crate with food and water, but still in the coop with others.

Many chickens will gape once or twice and it may be that she is just adjusting her crop. Sometimes if the crop becomes full and hard, they may adjust it more because it is uncomfortable.

Checking her crop in the evening when it should be full, and again in early morning before she eats, when it should be flat and empty, can tell you if there is a crop problem. If it is full and hard or full and puffy in the morning, that is not normal.
 
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rebrascora

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Can you post a video of her. It needs to be uploaded to a hosting site like You Tube or Vimeo and a link placed on this thread.
I am guessing she must be pretty seriously ill if you have risked the wrath of your husband by taking her to the vet. Are there other symptoms?
How much corn do they get and between how many chickens and how long have you been feeding that? When did she last lay an egg?
Have you had any other incidents of ill health in your flock? Any lame birds or sudden deaths?
 
Dec 5, 2018
18
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Ontario, OR
Gladys didn’t make it :’(

Thanks for the suggestions. So much good info for the future. She was gaping constantly (no normal breathing at all.) It was about two weeks ago that she last laid an egg. None of the other chickens have gotten sick. I mix the layers pellets and corn 50-50 and they free feed. Is it too much corn?

And thank you for the dosing on the Safe Guard. I was afraid I’d overdose her.
 

rebrascora

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I'm so sorry you lost her. :hugs
Yes that is way too much corn. You are putting your hens at risk of many serious ailments, particularly larger birds. I would do less than 10:1 mix. Corn is high in carbohydrates but low in most other nutrients, particularly protein. That can lead to obese hens which are prone to reproductive disorders and fatty liver haemorrhagic syndrome which is a killer.
Do you feel able to open her up and do an informal necropsy? I am thinking she may have had ascites as a result of Fatty Liver and that was putting pressure on her respiratory system. If that was the case, her abdominal cavity will be full of fluid. If you do decide to open her up, be prepared to take photos as there are a few of us that are sadly becoming quite experienced at doing them and spotting abnormalities.
 
Dec 5, 2018
18
52
59
Ontario, OR
Oh no! I feel so terrible! I’ll cut their corn waaaaay back! I don’t know if I could open her up. I’m so sad...and pretty squeamish. My poor little Gladys. I can’t believe how attached to those chickens I’ve gotten.
 

Eggcessive

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So sorry for your loss. I agree with doing a necropsy or even getting one professionally through a state vet or poultry lab. It would be good to identify a respiratory disease or ascites causing labored breathing.

The chicken feed should make up 90% of her food intake, and treats are not necessary, but some of us give a handful of scratch or corn on occasion, just to get them to come in to be handled.

What state or area are you located? In tropical areas, gapeworm can be a problem. It is a bit rare, but those chickens gape and gasp, and cannot even eat or drink due to the gaping and trying to breathe.

Here is a link to find a poultry lab for a necropsy (keep the body refrigerated, but not frozen). http://www.metzerfarms.com/PoultryLabs.cfm
 
Dec 5, 2018
18
52
59
Ontario, OR
So sorry for your loss. I agree with doing a necropsy or even getting one professionally through a state vet or poultry lab. It would be good to identify a respiratory disease or ascites causing labored breathing.

The chicken feed should make up 90% of her food intake, and treats are not necessary, but some of us give a handful of scratch or corn on occasion, just to get them to come in to be handled.

What state or area are you located? In tropical areas, gapeworm can be a problem. It is a bit rare, but those chickens gape and gasp, and cannot even eat or drink due to the gaping and trying to breathe.

Here is a link to find a poultry lab for a necropsy (keep the body refrigerated, but not frozen). http://www.metzerfarms.com/PoultryLabs.cfm
Im in Southeast Oregon. My husband just took her out and buried her in our little pet cemetery. I’m headed out to the coop to get the corn in their food as diluted down as possible. Are dried meal worms ok for treats? I also brought a couple of full cobs home when we were harvesting and they loved pecking away at those. And I have two scratch blocks in their yard. Omg - reading what I’ve just wrote, I think I’m giving them too much of everything! I have a lot to learn!
 

Eggcessive

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Oh don’t fret too much. Everyone has to learn anout chickens at first. Chickens love corn in any shape or form. But it only has about 8% protein compared to the 16-20% that they need for egg laying. Meal worms are okay as a treat in moderation. I have learned to just give mine mostly layer feed, since several of mine are on the tubby side. They tend to get most of the treats as well.
 

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Im in Southeast Oregon. My husband just took her out and buried her in our little pet cemetery. I’m headed out to the coop to get the corn in their food as diluted down as possible. Are dried meal worms ok for treats? I also brought a couple of full cobs home when we were harvesting and they loved pecking away at those. And I have two scratch blocks in their yard. Omg - reading what I’ve just wrote, I think I’m giving them too much of everything! I have a lot to learn!
I’m so sorry for your loss of your beloved Glady’s.
I too was guilty of over treating my girls. I cut them down to a minimum. A quality feed is so important.
We all learn. People reading this thread will learn. Take what you’ve experienced and learned and share it with others. I’m thinking Gladys would like that.
May your heart find peace.
Best wishes
 

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